According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. During the height of the pandemic, families had plenty of time to adopt a “new normal,” where entertaining, learning, working, and preserving good health at home turned into a standard way of life. And one of the most prominent and seemingly permanent changes is the attraction to outdoor living spaces.
“In normal times, outdoor spaces are areas of recreation for ourselves and our families, yet today we need them for restoration of our bodies and minds,” says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association.
Outdoor Speakers and Lighting Play a Restorative Role
What’s happening in these health-centered patios, decks, sunrooms, and porches? “Plenty of entertainment,” says Ryan Tallman, owner of AVLT Solutions, a home tech integration firm in Sarasota, Fla. “Instead of retreating to a dark media room to enjoy a movie or kick back in a living room recliner to listen to music, families are heading outside where they reap the health and wellness benefits of sunshine and fresh air.”
AV manufacturers have reacted quickly to this trend, focusing much of their product development on outdoor-friendly components that perform well and blend in with their surroundings. Even AV amenities normally reserved for interior spaces like projection systems, high-end speakers, and smart, architectural light fixtures are migrating to the Great Outdoors.
Of course, it’s impossible to control Mother Nature, so there are specific attributes to consider when selecting outdoor AV equipment and installing them in a manner that contributes to better health.
Achieving a Natural Blend with Projection Screens
The objective when integrating AV equipment outside is to make it blend with, not compete with or overpower the natural surroundings. It’s hard to feel at one with nature when a big, bulky TV is staring you in the face. A two-piece video projection system may be a better option. The screen–held taut on a zipper track so that so it doesn’t sway in the wind—rolls into a slim housing mounted inconspicuously to a solid structure. This preserves the view and peaceful vibe when the screen is not in use.
However, a projection screen can be just as beneficial to good health when it’s in its viewing position. “For many people, entertainment is an escape, a form of relaxation, and nothing gets you there faster than immersing yourself in a good movie presented on a big projection screen,” says Ryan Gustafson, CEO of Screen Innovations, a manufacturer of stylish, smart motorized screens and shades intended for indoor and outdoor use.
Cancelling Out Unwanted Noise with Outdoor Speakers
Complement the screen and the outdoor surroundings with open-air speakers designed to be heard, not seen. Design-forward manufacturers like Leon Speakers handcraft their outdoor speakers in a range of colors and styles to fade into the backdrop, leaving the beauty of the landscape to behold.
Certainly, you’ll want the speakers positioned in a way that envelopes you in the on-screen action, but when it comes to your mental and physical health, music makes the biggest impression. In concert with nature, music relieves stress, anxiety, and depression; elevates mood, and lowers blood pressure, among other benefits. Speakers with integrated landscape lighting add to the effect and make outdoor areas safer to navigate at night.
Unlike listening to music inside, where you can manage ambient noise, outside it’s a crap shoot. Noise from nearby traffic, a barking dog, or lawnmower can ruin a Calgon moment. Contrary to what you might think, however, speakers are one of the best ways to mitigate these audible distractions. They just need to be placed appropriately, ideally mounted around the perimeter of the listening area facing in towards the center.
Enclosing the area with motorized shading helps, too. Companies like Screen Innovations offer outdoor-rated fabrics that form a barrier against harmful UV rays and insects but still lets you still see outside. Plus, you can always raise the shades to get a full dose of sunshine whenever you want, giving you the best of both worlds: complete exposure to and protection from the outdoor elements.
Practicing Healthy Habits Through Outdoor Tech
When an outdoor space is enjoyable, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing, achieving a healthy connection to nature is easy. AV products can contribute to the effect by delivering mood-boosting, stress-reducing video, music and lighting to the area. It’s time to extend AV to the Great Outdoors with products that perform well and blend naturally into the environment.